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John A. O'Connell

August 29, 1925 ~ May 15, 2019 (age 93)


John A. O’Connell, 93, passed away on Wednesday afternoon, May 15, 2019 at his residence in South Bend, IN. He was born August 29, 1925 in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, to John A. O’Connell and Letitia (McGinnis) O’Connell. He married Mary Ann (Pierce) in Saint Louis on March 26, 1951. He is survived by his sister, Sr. Letitia O’Connell IHM; brother, Fr. Daniel C. O’Connell, S.J.; four children, Patrick (Judi) O’Connell, Mary Kay O’Connell, Letitia (Victor) Azar, Robert (Teri) O’Connell; four grandchildren, Dominic and Theodore Azar, James Riley and Hannah O’Connell; and sister-in-law, Virginia Chais.

John received his bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University and did graduate studies in business at St. Louis University and University of Notre Dame.

John began his business career as a buyer at the scientific division of A.S. Aloe Company in St. Louis, where he worked as a buyer and catalog developer. In 1960, he moved with his family to South Bend to take a position as national purchasing director for the Sisters of the Holy Cross, where he spent the next 30 years developing national contracts for hospitals and educational facilities. In the 1970s, he was promoted to director of Holy Cross Shared Services, which nationally developed purchasing programs, insurance management and benefits. He was the founder of Consolidated Catholic Risk Retention Group and president of Havican Insurance which was the first captive insurance company in the nonprofit sphere. While in this position, John taught at Notre Dame, published articles in medical and insurance publications, and was a frequent speaker at national insurance and medical meetings. John was a lifetime member of the National Purchasing Managers Association and served on the boards of several insurance companies as well as Notre Dame Federal Credit Union. 

In 1983, he received the National Risk Manager of the Year Award from Business Insurance for his work in developing insurance and loss control approaches for nonprofit organizations. He was the first person from a nonprofit organization to receive the prestigious award. 

He was devoted to the mission of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and served them faithfully for more than 35 years. His last project for the Sisters was to develop the Inn at St. Mary’s to further assist in supporting their congregation.

John was a faithful member of the Knights of Columbus and the Sons of the American Revolution as well as an avid philatelist and genealogist. He was active in both St. Joseph and St. Patrick parishes as well as St. Vincent De Paul Society. Throughout his life, he participated in numerous charitable activities, including devoting a number of years to work with refugees from Southeast Asia, many of whom he remained close to until his death.

The most important parts of his life were his faith, his joyful marriage to Mary Ann for 67 years, raising his four children, and enjoying visits with their many friends in South Bend.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30am on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at St. Patrick Church, 309 S. Taylor Street, South Bend, IN. Graveside services and burial will follow at Queen of Peace Cemetery on the campus of Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. Friends may visit with the family from 5:00-7:00pm on Monday, May 20th at Palmer Funeral Home—Hickey Chapel, 17131 Cleveland Road, South Bend, with recitation of the rosary at 7:00pm.

Memorial contributions may be donated to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Ministry with the Poor, Development Office – Saint Mary’s College, 407 Bertrand Hall, Notre Dame IN 46556, or to St. Patrick Church, 309 South Taylor Street, South Bend, IN 46601.

Online condolences may be left for the O’Connell family at

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May 20, 2019

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Palmer Funeral Home - Hickey Chapel
17131 Cleveland Road
South Bend, IN 46635

Recitation of the Rosary
May 20, 2019

7:00 PM
Palmer Funeral Home - Hickey Chapel
17131 Cleveland Road
South Bend, IN 46635

Mass of Christian Burial
May 21, 2019

10:30 AM
St. Patrick Catholic Church
309 S. Taylor Street
South Bend, Indiana 46601


Sisters of the Holy Cross, Ministry With the Poor
Development Office – Saint Mary’s, 407 Bertrand Hall, Notre Dame IN 46556

St. Patrick Church
309 S. Taylor Street, South Bend IN 46601

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